Presidential address: Sentamu: society needs work ethics

14 July 2010

THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sen­tamu (above), in his presidential address, spoke up to defend the “much-maligned” Archbishop of Canter­bury from rumour and “spin”.

He called on Church, Govern­ment, and society to address the ends and purposes of life rather than focus on short-term profit or advantage. Such an attitude could even affect the Synod’s debates. “Imagine if our hearts were a spiritual Noah’s ark for all those who are unloved, frightened, lost, and in need in our world today,” he said.

What mattered in life was close­ness to God, generosity, and honesty to neighbour, leading to human flour­­ishing, and giving rise to the fruits of sincerity, humility, de­penda­bility, stickability, compas­sion, and justice.

There was, he said, in society, not only “a general disregard for truth”, but also “a rapacious appetite for ‘care­lessness’, compounded by spin, propaganda, and the resort to mis­leading opinions paraded as fact, re­garding a remarkable, gifted, and much-maligned Christian leader I call a dear friend and trusted col­league — one Rowan Williams”. He called on this criticism to end: “Enough is enough. May we all pos­sess a high regard for truth.”

Politicians seeking economic re­covery for the country should re­mem­ber that recovery was not an end, but a means to an end, which was to achieve a society in which there was a better understanding of the true value of humanity.

“It is our job to keep reminding them that the purpose of that recovery is to establish the con­ditions of human flourishing. Hu­mans are not an instrument of pro­duc­tion, nor the object of work, but its true maker and creator.”

The link between work and paid employment should be broken. “‘Good work’ is not necessarily paid em­ployment. We have lost our sense of perspective about what work should be like.” Some people worked such long hours that they had no time to relate to their families, while others had no work. Everyone would benefit from a truly ethical approach to every aspect of our life.

“We need the pursuit not of profit, but of economic justice on a global scale,” which was the key to solving many political and social problems. “Wealth-creation is a good thing, but it comes with a spiritual health warn­­­ing.”

Maximising shareholder value needed to be rethought. “The blind pur­suit of profit has to end.” Social holi­­­ness was acting justly towards one’s neighbour as evidence of a right relationship with God. “We can­­not expect to come closer to God if we are not working for the good of others.”

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